Africa Media Review for December 6, 2023

Sudanese Warring Parties Dig In as Jeddah Talks Falter Again
Saudi and U.S.-brokered talks aimed at halting fighting between Sudan’s warring parties have faltered again, and the country’s army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces have pressed on with military campaigns that have caused a major humanitarian crisis…Talks in Jeddah were first suspended in June and resumed in October. They were adjourned this week with no new agreement, Sudanese sources at the talks said, after commitments to calm rhetoric, capture Bashir cronies, and facilitate humanitarian assistance went unfulfilled. Representatives for the two sides, who were not meeting face to face, remained at odds over the RSF’s occupation of much of Khartoum, the sources said. The army has demanded that the RSF withdraw to specific bases, and rejected an RSF counter-proposal that it leave civilian homes and set up checkpoints around the city, they said. A U.S. State Department spokesman said mediators remained ready for additional talks but “the parties need to demonstrate that they can implement their commitments”. Reuters

Police Services Resume in South Darfur Capital after Seven-Month Hiatus
The police in Nyala, capital of South Darfur and Sudan’s second-largest city, have resumed operations for the first time since their withdrawal from the city and its districts after the outbreak of the war in Sudan on April 15. The force primarily operates within the central and southern divisions of the city of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur. The force commander, Major Abdelrazzaq Elubaid, who raised the statement to the commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in South Darfur, Col Saleh Elfouni, said that the force that announced its readiness to return to work was 500 policemen strong, yet currently consists of 217 policemen. The police withdrew from the scene in several Sudanese states immediately after the outbreak of the April 15 war between the Sudanese Army (SAF) and the RSF, while some police units in the capital, Khartoum, remained actively engaged in fighting in the ranks of the SAF…Immediately after the RSF took control of the army command in the city of Nyala in late October, the second commander of the RSF, Lieutenant General Abdulrahim Daglo, called on the police to return to assume their duties. Daglo announced that Major General Bashir Issa was assigned to manage the state police, having worked as a police officer in Nyala before being assigned to the RSF. Radio Dabanga

Mali: Troops from Germany Withdraw Following End of UN Mission
German troops have begun their withdrawal from Gao, as the United Nations continues to dismantle its peacekeeping mission in Mali before the end of the year. Personnel at the Camp Castor base, which supports the activities of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), on Tuesday began dismantling and transporting their equipment back to Germany. The move is in accordance with the UN Security Council vote in June to end a decade-old peacekeeping mission to Mali, whose military junta urged the troops’ removal as it aligns with Russia. The junta had earlier in the year aligned itself with Russia and brought in the Wagner Group. Mali’s relations with the United Nations have deteriorated sharply since a 2020 coup brought to power a military regime which also severed defense cooperation with France, the former colonial power. Under longstanding UN practice, a peacekeeping mission needs the approval of the host country. There were about twelve MINUSMA bases in Mali, nine of which the UN mission had dismantled at the end of November. MINUSMA has been deployed in Mali since 2013 to prop up the West African nation’s security as it faces jihadi rebels linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group as well as a Tuareg-led separatist revolt. Africanews

Last G5 Sahel Members Chad, Mauritania Acknowledge Alliance Is a Spent Force
Chad and Mauritania “take note and respect the sovereign decision” of Burkina Faso and Niger to leave the alliance, following in the footsteps of Mali, the two countries said in a statement. They “will implement all necessary measures in accordance with the G5 founding convention, notably Article 20,” they said. The article says that the alliance can be dissolved at the request of at least three member states. The G5 was created in 2014 but has secured only meagre results. In 2017, leaders of the five countries agreed to deploy a joint anti-terror task force backed by France. But the military rulers of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali have all accused Paris of having an outsize role after years of French deployments on their territories. Burkina Faso and Niger said in a statement on Saturday that they had decided “to quit all instances of the G5 Sahel, including the joint force.” AFP

Mali and Niger Revoke Tax Cooperation Treaties with France
Mali and Niger have revoked two treaties with France for cooperation and administrative assistance in tax matters, their governments said in a statement on Tuesday. The two West African countries are both run by military juntas that seized power in coups and have been taking steps to distance themselves from former colonial ruler France, which had previously been a close partner in security and other areas. The statement revoked one agreement with France from 1972 which was meant to avoid double taxation and “establish rules of reciprocal assistance” in various tax matters. The other agreement had similar aims…There was no immediate reaction from Paris. Reuters

Nigerian Press Advocates Hail ECOWAS Court Ruling on Media Laws
Nigerian press freedom advocates are praising a recent ruling from the court of West African bloc ECOWAS that ordered Nigerian authorities to review sections of the country’s Press Act. The court said portions of the law discriminate against online and nonprofessional journalists. The ruling followed a lawsuit filed by two Nigerian journalists against authorities in 2021. Nigerian journalists Isaac Olamikan and Edoghogho Ugberease approached the ECOWAS regional court two years ago after security operatives arrested the duo in separate incidents while they were gathering the news. Olamikan was accused of practicing with an expired media license. Ugberease — a citizen journalist who often covers happenings in her local community in southern Nigeria’s Edo state — was told by authorities that she was not qualified to tell stories or carry out investigations. But the three-member panel of the ECOWAS court ruled that three sections of the Nigerian Press Council Act imposed age restrictions and educational qualifications for journalists and therefore discriminated against online and citizen journalists. The court said that technological advancements meant media space is evolving, but that Nigerian law failed to accommodate such changes. VOA

Media Coalition Condemns Harassment Of Nigerian Journalist Arrested On Official Duty
The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has condemned the harassment of a Nigerian investigative journalist, Marcus Fatunmole, by security personnel at Eagle Square car park in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory. Fatunmole, who is the news editor of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), a Nigerian media publication, was reportedly harassed on Monday, Dec. 4, while investigating the controversy surrounding the FCT mass transportation scheme. According to a statement signed by Busola Ajibola, deputy director of journalism at the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), an African media think tank, on behalf of CWPPF on Tuesday, Fatunmole was harassed by different security agents “including a police officer, Abuja Property Development Company (APDC), and a 360 TFA private security [officer].” While the journalist’s phone was seized, his Google accounts were invaded though he provided the personnel with viable identification including a confirmation from his editor. HumAngle

Somalia Gains on Arms Purchases Pose New Burden on EAC Peers
Somalia’s entry into the East African Community (EAC) as well as promising domestic reforms helped earn the country a lifting of an arms embargo imposed 31 years ago, initially to tame warlords but later target Al Shabaab militants. But celebrations for the move by the UN Security Council (UNSC) last week could come with new worries among peers in the EAC where irregular flow of weapons through porous borders has often led to frequent violent extremism. Lifting of the embargo allows Mogadishu to arm its police and military forces with modern weaponry. But peers in the EAC face Somalia’s big task of ensuring weapons that fall in the wrong hands are not used perpetuate violence in their borders…Al Shabaab remains banned from purchasing or accessing weapons in the international market and countries must work together to ensure no violations…The council however will still require Somalia to submit a list of weapons purchased to its sanctions committee, and Mogadishu is required to establish a national inventory of weapons besides promoting adequate training of the police and military. The council also says Somalia must also vet and license private security firms that seek to import weapons into the country and that it must ensure those weapons are not resold, transferred or supplied to entities that are not entitled to use the equipment. The East African

Ethiopia: Drone Strikes in Amhara Region Result in Loss of Civilian Lives, Infrastructure Damage
Last week, multiple districts in Amhara region were struck by renewed heavy artillery shelling and drone strike, resulting in the tragic loss of civilian lives and the destruction of vital infrastructures. Witnesses speaking to Addis Standard reported that the indiscriminate attacks caused widespread devastation to homes and infrastructure in the region. One incident occurred on Thursday evening at approximately 5:00 p.m. in the town of Wegeltena, located in the Delanta district of the South Wollo zone. A local resident of Wegeltena, whose brother tragically lost his life during the attack, reported that an ambulance carrying crucial medical supplies from Desse town to Delanta Primary Hospital was targeted by a drone upon its arrival in the town…Another incident occurred last week in Lasta and Habru districts of North Wollo Zone, resulting in civilian casualties, according to a report by Voice of America. In the Lasta district, an artillery strike occurred at approximately 10:00 AM, targeting a local market area, resulting in numerous lives lost, including that of a mother and child, as the market was densely populated on a day bustling with commercial activity. The ongoing conflict between the federal government and the non-state militia group, Fano, also had a devastating impact on the essential infrastructure of the region.  Addis Standard

Senegalese Presidential Election: Sonko’s Candidacy Returns to Court
A court in Dakar will examine on December 12 whether Senegalese opposition figure Ousmane Sonko should be reinstated on the electoral rolls, on which his candidacy for the 2024 presidential elections depends, AFP learned on Tuesday from a judicial source. On November 17, Senegal’s Supreme Court overturned a ruling handed down in October, which had put Mr. Sonko back in the running for the presidential election by overturning his removal from the electoral roll following his conviction in a vice scandal. The court ruled that the case should be retried by the Dakar court. This “special” hearing has been set for December 12 at 08:30 (local time and GMT), according to a statement from the Court of Appeal received by AFP…Mr. Sonko’s disbarment renders him ineligible for the 2024 presidential election if confirmed. It has given rise to a legal battle led by his lawyers against the state, which has been engaged in a standoff with the opponent for over two years, triggering several episodes of deadly unrest. Africanews with AFP

Libya Dismantles Illegal Gold Mining Network
An illegal gold mining network operating in the Libyan desert and employing Chinese, Chadians and Nigeriens has been dismantled, the Prosecutor’s Office announced on the night of Sunday to Monday. The network, led by a Libyan, carried out “gold mining activities in violation of regulations” and “without the agreement of the authorities” , in four sites in the desert of southern Libya , the Prosecutor’s office said in a statement. The search for gold was carried out by Chinese, Chadian and Nigerien nationals staying illegally in Libya, according to the same source. Five suspects – a Libyan and four foreigners – were arrested by security services, the statement added. Photos released by the Prosecutor’s Office show shallow rectangular pools, the size of Olympic swimming pools, dug in the middle of the desert, and nuggets and ingots of black and gold metal seized. Gold panning is not a widespread practice in Libya, a vast oil country where the desert covers more than two-thirds of its surface area, which is difficult to monitor. This summer, Libyan authorities dismantled a clandestine cryptocurrency mining network on several sites in the west of the country. Dozens of Chinese nationals involved in this illegal activity were arrested. Africanews with AFP

Ghana Court Jails Chinese National over Illegal Gold Mining
A Ghanaian court has sentenced a Chinese national to prison for illegal gold mining in the West African nation, her lawyer said on Monday, ending a case that started in 2017 and shed light on Chinese involvement in the activity. The court in the capital Accra sentenced Aisha Huang to four and a half years imprisonment and a fine of 48,000 Ghanaian cedis ($4,000) for running an illegal mining operation, Huang’s lawyer Hope Agboado told Reuters. Huang, who could not be reached for comment, initially pleaded not guilty but changed her plea to guilty as the trial progressed. Agboado said he had asked the court to impose a fine and deport her instead of imposing jail time. He and Huang are still deciding whether or not to appeal, he said. Ghana, a gold, oil and cocoa producer, is facing a scourge of illegal mining with Chinese nationals accused of leading some of the operations that have destroyed large areas of forest, polluted water bodies and sometimes encroached on the concessions of large-scale miners. Ghana’s cocoa regulator COCOBOD told Reuters in September that around 150,000 metric tons of cocoa was lost due to smuggling and illegal gold mining, locally known as galamsey, on farmlands in the 2022/23 season. Huang was known as the ‘Galamsey queen’ in the Ghanaian press. Several Chinese nationals were brought to court for similar cases in Ghana in 2021 and 2022. Reuters